CENTRE FOR MIDDLE EASTERN
The Middle East in Bergen
After having for a generation been the primary focus of the University of Bergen's non-European research, the Middle East milieu in 2000 faced a number of new challenges. For years, political developments in our 'core area', the Sudan, had made it increasingly difficult to maintain the level of interchange with that country. Although close relations remain with the Sudan and Sudanese colleagues, interests have started to diversify inside Islamic Africa, and a new focus of interest in the Indian Ocean region has developed.
At the same time, winds of change was starting to blow over Norwegian universities. In 2000, these were still on the level of plans and proposals rather than finalized programs, and their net effect remained to be seen. The Middle East milieu however focused on the opportunities for greater flexibility and inter-departmental co-operation both in teaching and research. Having already pioneered such co-operation for a decade, it spent the year planning ahead for how to exploit these opportunities.
On the more local level, 2000 also marked the end of the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies' ten-year long residence at our house in Parkv. 22a. In 2002, we plan to move with several other non-European-oriented research centres into a shared locality, for increased practical and academic co-operation; until then the Middle East centre has a temporary location in the Arabic department's old locales.
History of the milieu
The Middle East Centre (SMI) is on the other hand basically a service
centre for the research milieu at the University. It aims to co-ordinate
the research interest of the various individual Middle East-oriented scholars
at the various departments in the faculties of Arts and Social Science,
and develop an inter-departmental Middle East milieu from them. It shall
also function as a 'face' for the research vis-à-vis the outside
world, as well as a point of contact for this world to the Middle East
scholars in Bergen. Thus, the Centre's own staff is minimal, a director
and a part-time secretary, but it does provide space for guest professors
as well as research fellows and associates from Bergen and abroad.
Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies